Read the Standards
Take Care of Your Hands
To prepare for the pull-ups, whatever variation you are doing, hang from the bar, do hollow rocks, and activate your shoulders. If you're going Rx, do a few rounds of 5 reps light OHS and kipping pull ups. If scaled, do light OHS and one or two chin-over-bar pull ups or jumping pull ups. Rest 5 mins, going over your cues and visualising yourself flying through the workout with ease and grace!
Overhead Squat Cues
If you are confident in your OHS, still take the first few reps slowly to find your rhythm and balance before you start pumping them out. Lifting shoes, if you have them, will significantly help with your stability.
Chest to Bar Hacks
• Do a normal strict pull-up as fast and as far as you can with your knees up, then when almost at the top kick down while yanking up and in with your arms. I managed to get 10 out like this last year with a underhand grip.
• If kipping, try jumping towards the bar. Start a foot or so in front of the bar rather than right under it to help you get momentum with your kip. Hold your whole body tight and think like a rubber band pinging to get up there.
• Switch your grip around. Try one hand underhanded and use that arm to tug your chest towards the bar at the top of the movement. Or try both underhanded if really struggling to get that chest to touch.
• Use boxes or plates. If you have a high bar, set them up on either side of the bar to stand on in between reps so that you're not using any effort more than required to get up there. Movement standard is that your arms must be fully extended at the start of the movement.
• Remember the bar only has to touch below the collarbone, often with thinking 'chest to bar' we frantically try to pull higher than necessary.
• If you've done everything right and still didn't get high enough, you may just need to rest longer before your next attempt. Sucks with the clock ticking, I know, but your body needs to recover enough to be able to do it again.
• This is (for the likes of us!) a max effort movement. Stop, shake your arms out, breathe and think through your plan for getting up there before each attempt. Don't panic. Remember there will be thousands of people around the world attempting to get their first chest to bar or chin over bar pull up this weekend. You're not alone.
If you didn't do as well as you wanted, chill out. The overhead squat and whichever variation of pull up you do are actually really difficult things. How many people on the street even try to do what you're doing? You're pretty amazing for showing up and doing it at all. Go you!
I stayed afterwards and did 2x10 and 2x12 chest to bar pull ups with brief rests in between and very few no-reps. I worked out some more tweaks ready to do better next time. Then did some strict HSPUs and back squat sets, because I wanted to something that wasn't disappointing.
Here's some more tips I figured out with the chest to bar pull ups that I hope may be useful for you:
• We have a high pull up bar where I train so I need a box to get up to the bar anyway. For workouts that matter such as this one, I set up two boxes so that I can jump straight onto the bar, rather than reaching up from the side and having to get centred before starting the rep. You can see in the photos how that works. You could use plates in the same way if your bar is lower but still a big jump for you.
• Tight kip. Hips forward, not legs. Swing back, then bang the hips up to get the chest to bar. If you're just pulling with your arms they will cease to work very soon! Use that kip.
• I found reaching forward to the bar from about a foot away from it effective. To get quicker reps, as I'm doing them only one at a time, I jump forward onto the bar, use that momentum to get a big kip, get chest to bar then drop down and back to land ready for the next rep. Swing arms back, deep breath, go again.